THE CLIMATE OPPORTUNITY
Updated: Aug 30, 2022
The burgeoning role of the weather and environmental monitoring industry in the climate fight
Sunday, April 24, 2022
Last week I was in Singapore for the Asia Climate Forum and had the opportunity to address the conference on the “Climate Opportunity”. Here are some notes from that talk.
I realize the title of the presentation might be a bit of a head scratcher. We don’t often think about climate change as an opportunity, and undoubtedly it’s an opportunity we wish we could have lived without.
However, to successfully overcome the challenge of climate change we must see it as the huge opportunity it is.
I’ve been inspired by the amazing array of entrepreneurs, scientists, policy makers and others working to address this challenge. Certainly, they see countless opportunities to address the climate crisis and thrive. Today, I’ll try to frame out what I think the opportunities are for our industry.
First a little on the background for the presentation.
In putting together the talk, it was hard to figure out which hat I was wearing – what powerpoint template was I supposed to use?? So, in full transparency here’s where I’m coming from.
I was there as Chair of HMEI (www.hmei.org) – the association of the private companies that make up the hydrometeorological industry, many participating here.
My day job is as the Vice President of Global Sales for one of those companies AEM – Advanced Environmental Monitoring (www.aem.eco) .
And much of what I know and have to share on this topic is as the Author of Good Enough for the Climate, the book I authored and published last December with New Degree Press.
So, those are the indivisible perspectives I brought to this topic and hopefully that will all make sense here.
HMEI is the Hydrometeorology Industry Association… Thousands of scientists, engineers, technologists, business and operations experts working to develop and deliver solutions to the climate challenge work for our 140 member companies. When I talk about the Climate Opportunity, there are many, but I’m principally interested in the centrally important role and value our industry brings to the climate fight.
In Good Enough for the Climate, I detailed the inspiring stories of these and other individuals taking action at the forefront of the climate crisis. Taking a business-oriented perspective, my big ideas, my conclusions include the following. And I think these are important things for our industry to internalize.
The math is simple and not controversial – too often the problem is portrayed as too complex or too big. It really isn’t
The Dynamics of Action and Innovation are powerful and we should leverage them more as we work to address climate change
There is no single right answer – too often we are prone to reductionist, absolutist, one size fits all thinking. The solutions to climate change are varied and context dependent. We should embrace that complexity
There is no doubt that to solve the climate challenge our Head and our Heart must come together. We must reconcile our place as part of the natural world, not apart from it. The carbon cowboys and the tree huggers must come together.
Finally, We Got This – A prerequisite to Action is Optimism. We must know that we can win this fight and there is a huge opportunity with massive benefits for human thriving if we do.
Let me touch on a couple of these points further.
The Math is Simple.
Thanks to the dogged research of scientists and policy makers, many if not most part of the Global Weather Enterprise, we know with impressive certainty what the problem is.
The stories of the career long pursuits of individual scientists, like Ralph Keeling at Scripts and the nearly 40 years of work by the IPCC have made it possible for us to have this clear view of the challenge and what we must do.
We must actively manage the chemical composition of the atmosphere forever.
These points are not the subject of serious debate any longer. Our constituents – our customers, investors, employees have moved on. We lead the effort to get to this point, we must lead the push for solutions as well.
Fortunately, we have some strong forces to help us. The dynamics of action and innovation are powerful and we should leverage them wherever possible. Taking action leads us to a new set of preconditions enabling us to iterate and innovate further.
Technological solutions are developed, adopted and combined in novel ways at varying rates.
Change tends to happen slowly, then fast as key threshold conditions are met and benefits compound over time.
For example, within our own industry higher resolution weather forecasts enable the adoption of renewable energy and efficient operation of these assets. AI is enabling better grid management for optimal integration of these assets. Machine learning drives energy efficiency through industrial process improvements. Real Time monitoring of the chemical composition of the atmosphere allows us to track our progress.
These are all technologies, layered on top of other innovations, at various stages of adoption, that help mitigate climate change and create more resilient organizations and communities.
Our Head and our Heart must come together. We must have the optimism to solve this problem. The prerequisite of Action is Hope. The change needed is massive. The necessary rate of change is rapid. We see that the consensus has matured, ambitions are expanding.
Many solutions are now available at scale. We know how to solve about 80 percent of the problem.
In bringing the Head and the Heart together, we can reconcile our relationship with nature and partner with it to enable some of the solutions necessary for sustainable human thriving. This isn’t just a philosophical ambition, it has to be a constantly rigorously measured outcome. No doubt it requires more innovative environmental monitoring solutions from the folks at this conference.
The Hydromet Industry is a central part of the answer.
The entrepreneurs, scientists, engineers, investors, technicians and others are working every day to mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change.